Heart palpitations can be a scary experience for anyone, especially if you’re in good health otherwise and have never had them before. And if you don’t normally experience them but are having heart palpitations at night, you’re likely losing one or more restful nights of sleep. So what’s going on?
This post will dive into what heart palpitations are, what can cause them, and how you can seek treatment for them.
What Are Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitations are sudden feelings of awareness of your heart beating. However, these feelings may be of several different kinds: you might feel a fluttering sensation or a more pronounced pounding in your heart. Your heart might race or feel like it’s beating in or around your throat. You might also feel like it “skipped” a few beats.
These feelings can come out of nowhere and often disappear just as soon as they came on.
Why Am I Having Heart Palpitations At Night?
For the most part, heart palpitations are harmless, and some people might experience their heart “skipping” a beat or feeling odd as they go to sleep, particularly just before they drift off to sleep.
Because the heart is an organic machine that never takes any time off, it can sometimes go out of sync. Normally, the atria (upper chambers of the heart) contract slightly earlier than they should. This makes it feel like your heart “skipped” a beat because they then take a little bit of time to reset themselves back to their natural rhythm. However, the heart’s lower chambers respond to this by contracting harder to pump extra blood, which might feel noticeable and concerning. But rest easy because these incidents are almost always harmless and don’t mean anything is wrong with your heart.
Other common reasons include low blood sugar, vigorous exercise, stress, or anxiety. Using stimulant drugs such as nicotine or caffeine can also cause heart palpitations.
There are other conditions, though, that can signal that something is wrong.
When Should I Be Worried?
Conditions such as tachycardia (faster than normal heartbeat) and atrial fibrillation (irregular contraction of the upper chambers) can cause palpitations and should be examined by a doctor. If there is a repeated pattern of problems with the way your heart contracts, it can become very dangerous, such as in the case of ventricular fibrillation.
The heart is a powerful but delicate organ with many parts that must work in synchrony to pump blood throughout your body. Any abnormalities must be diagnosed by a trained professional.
The Bottom Line: See A Cardiovascular Specialist
If your palpitations are occasional and short-lived, and you have healthy dietary habits and a lifestyle that allows you to manage stress and anxiety, you shouldn’t worry.
On the other hand, if your palpitations occur frequently and are worrying you, it would be best to contact a cardiovascular specialist.
At the Northwest Heart Center in Tomball, TX, we can perform a comprehensive suite of tests to diagnose any potential heart problems. These include electrocardiography, heart rhythm monitoring, and blood tests. We listen to all of our patients and keep patients confident and comfortable through our high-quality care practices. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at (281) 351-6250.
We look forward to hearing from you.